A Divorce Lawyer Weighs in — and Shares His Do's and Don'ts! (Exclusive)? To Get a Prenuptial Agreement or Not

A divorce lawyer is breaking down the facts about prenuptial agreements and sharing his expertise to help couples navigate the often touchy subject

Published Time: 27.06.2024 - 17:31:09 Modified Time: 27.06.2024 - 17:31:09

A divorce lawyer is breaking down the facts about prenuptial agreements and sharing his expertise to help couples navigate the often touchy subject.

Kenneth M. Warren Jr., Esq., a partner at Leonard, Warren & Leonard, L.L.C., a New Jersey based law firm that specializes in family, divorce, and criminal law, tells PEOPLE that the legally binding agreement is one that many couples do not have in place.

"A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people in anticipation of marriage," Warren explains. "The purpose of that contract is to disclose to each other all assets and or debts they have prior to marriage and to set forth the rights and responsibilities they will have during the marriage and or in the termination of the marriage." 

"Most states, such as New Jersey and New York, have laws that determine how property should be divided in the event of death or divorce," he continues. "These laws often include provisions that dictate equitable distribution of property and exclude specific property such as premarital assets or inheritance that has not been with marital assets."

As for when to have the discussion, Warren says that's unique to each couple.

"This is fact sensitive and depends on the complexity of the assets and or debts of the couple getting married. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid and enforceable in most states, there needs to be a full and fair disclosure of all assets, it must be executed knowingly and voluntarily without coercion and or duress and should be reviewed by an attorney."

He says the first step for couple's is to have honest discussion about why one or both parties are interested in establishing a prenuptial agreement.

"That typically allows for the process to be easier, quicker, and much more amicable."

While he notes that there are situations when one person privately contacts an attorney regarding their concerns while other couples contact a law office in "unison," it's ultimately up to the lawyer "to make suggestions based on years of experience in litigating cases when the marriage fails."

To help both parties feel comfortable, he advises couples to "seek separate counsel so they can ask any and all questions they may have in a confidential and setting."

Still, he notes that conflict does arise.

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"In my experience, prenups usually cause conflict because they often have a negative connotation and stigma that come along with the term. However, this is usually the result of people not knowing exactly what a prenup is," he says.

"A prenup is a legal document that provides each person entering into a marriage with legal protections. However, many people assume that their future spouse is "hiding" something or does not trust them. That is the exact opposite of what a prenup is. In fact, for a prenup to be valid, there has to be full transparency of all assets and allows for an in depth discussion of potential issues that can lead to a deep connection that many couples often do not have prior to marriage. "

"The lack of communication and or financial problems are among the leading causes of divorce in the United States. A prenup can also alleviate the stress and burdens of feeling un and financially vulnerable when getting married and allow the couple to focus on the emotional connection rather than the financial risks."

One thing he strongly advises against is anyone signing a prenuptial agreement blindly out of emotion or obligation.

"Although this is a marital agreement, it is like any other significant contract that may substantially affect your rights and your future. Prior to execution, you need to verify that it is fair and that you have a full understanding of what is contained within that agreement or in many cases what is not included in the agreement. An experienced attorney will know what provisions are standard and what terms or clauses may cause issues during divorce proceedings."

PEOPLE spoke with Warren Jr. days after The Real Housewives of New York City alum Kelly Bensimon called off her wedding to financierScott Litner.

Bensimon told PEOPLE that she called things off four days before the ceremony was supposed to take place because Litner did not want to sign a prenuptial agreement.

“Ultimately, my decision is nobody’s business, but I understand that there is speculation and gossip, and I want to put an end to all of it. To be clear, he refused to sign a prenuptial agreement, and I refused to marry him. Full stop," the former reality star told PEOPLE.

PEOPLE has reached out to Litner for comment on the end of the engagement but did not receive an immediate response.

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